Doncaster Knights’ supporters queried why the club ‘can’t play like this every week’ after the home side booked their place in the last-four of the B & I Cup at Castle Park with a 38-17 win over Munster A.
It is a question to which Knights’ coaching staff would also like to know the answer after seeing their charges claim their seventh win in as many starts in the competition and keep their hopes of a major trophy success alive.
It’s a statistic which is in stark contrast to the club’s Championship record.
Knights looked a completely different side to that beaten by fellow league strugglers Jersey on the same ground a week earlier, prompting thoughts that if they can play like this in their remaining Championship games they will pull well clear of the relegation zone.
The same could be said, however, after they put 50 points past Cross Keys in their final Pool 4 game in December since when they have lost all four league games.
But there was more substance to their display on this occasion. Knights had undoubtedly done a lot of work in midweek on the areas that contributed to their defeat against the Reds. Indeed they took a leaf out of their book when it came to the catch and drive with back-rowers Michael Hills (2) and Latu Makaafi both scoring as result of such tactics.
Stung by criticism of their performance against Jersey, Knights were clearly up for the battle and in addition to Hills’ brace, scrum-half Bruno Bravo also jinked past several defenders from close range to claim a converted try to earn his side a 21-3 interval lead.
Munster, though they battled to the end, didn’t help their cause at times with some sloppy handling and poor tactical kicking, but take nothing away from Knights.
Dougie Flockhart made it 24-3 soon after the restart and Knights added a fourth try by Makaafi while Ireland and Lions’ forward Doncha O’Callaghan was in the sin-bin.
Knights lost Bravo, who formed a useful partnership with fly-half Piers Francis - whose play benefitted from a more cautious approach - but young Jack Maplesden showed up well when he came on. It was also good to see star centre Mat Clark come on after a long lay-off
Full-back Paul Jarvis broke strongly from a scrum to set-up a late try for Flockhart sandwiched in between two Munster touchdowns.
Knights: Jarvis, Flockhart, Bulumakau, Armitage, Tyson, Francis, Bravo; List, Hunter, Ross Davies, Hotson, Phelan, Makaafi, Hills, Shaw. Rep:Bergmanas, Veikoso, John,Clark, Roberts, Maplesden.
Munster A: Fitzgerald, Sweetnam, Johnston, Lyons, O’Shea, (R) Scannell, Cronin; O’Connor, (N) Scannell, Sweeney, O’Callaghan, Nicholas, Buckley, Dougall, O’Donaghue. Rep: O’Byrne, McCabe, Lavery, Bradshaw, Kilkenny, Cullen, Goggin.